Omar’s Resignation: A needed rumour
Dates for Lok Sabha elections are about to be announced any time putting model code of conduct in place. Also, State Assembly elections in Jammu & Kashmir are knocking the doors. All this makes, the year 2014, a doubly politically turbulent year for Jammu & Kashmir. Political parties are known to be active at times like this. Therefore the announcement of lucrative scheme and formation of new political equations becomes routine news. That is when, the news of fight between National Conference (NC) and Congress surfaced vigorously in Indian media, which is there from last week.
Chief Minister Omar Abdullah’s threat to resign over dull attitude of Congress for the creation of administrative units was highly needed to anti-incumbent coalition of NC-Congress for pro people image projection.
This one episode shows Omar Abdullah anxious of people concern. People of Jammu & Kashmir, particularly of Jammu region, have been demanding new administrative units and they have been struggling since decades to get more administrative units. This new process of ascertaining the demands of people for new administrative units was actually started in 2007 when the Government had constituted a Committee headed by former Chief Secretary of the State, Dr S S Bloeria. However, the report of the Committee was termed as ‘inconclusive’ in 2009 and in January 2010, the Committee was revived with Mushtaq Ahmad Ganaie as its head. This Committee had submitted its report to the Government on July 14, 2011. It had recommended creation of 700 new administrative units across the State. For setting up the units, the revenue department back in 2013 had estimated the expenditure of Rs. 700 crore apart from the recurring expenditure which include salaries and other expenses to be borne every year.
Ganaie recommendation had received a sharp criticism for being partial towards Kashmir region of the State. Following which a seven member Cabinet Sub-Committee (CSC) headed by Deputy Chief Minister Tara Chand (Congress) was formed in June, 2013.
This CSC has sought one more deadline from Omar which was given wrathfully by him. “The Cabinet Sub-Committee for new administrative units met me requesting one last week more to complete their recommendations. While I rather reluctantly gave them this one week, I have told then there will be no other Cabinet agenda taken up and no further extensions to the Committee till they submit their report on one last deadline of January 31,” Omar wrote on micro-blogging site twitter on January 23.
Omar is blaming Congress members of CSC for delaying report (on new administrative units) formation and Congress leaders of the J&K are charging Omar of being impractical and haphasard in forcing the deadline for submitting the report.
According to the latest information, CSC was likely to recommend creation of 200 to 250 new administrative units. After many extensions and drama the Cabinet Sub-Committee (CSC), reliable sources say, would submit its report on February 1 to the State Cabinet at 2 pm, thus, complying with January 31 deadline set by Chief Minister Omar Abdullah for the Panel to submit its recommendations.
Ideally, the recommendation to set up new administrative units should be based on the criteria like population, area, distance and topography-separately for plain and hilly areas. Population and area of Jammu region is more than the Kashmir region also Ladakh is approximately eightfold than the Kashmir. Kashmir region already had more administrative units as compared to other two regions. It’s worthwhile to mention here that Ganaie Commission report has recommended far more new units in Kashmir region than Jammu and Ladakh regions.
Its right that this report is biased towards Kashmir but more ridiculous is the concern of State unit of Congress in this regard. This is the same party who did not voice the concern of people of Jammu and Ladakh when they were misrepresented while marking backward areas in the State. This is the same party which on the name of ‘Justice and equality’ has cheated the people of Ladakh and Jammu in the past when Gulam Nabi Azad-led coalition Government in 2007 bypassed the Wazir Commission Report and created new districts to favour Kashmir region leading to average 1585.3 sq km for districts of Kashmir and average 2629.3 sq km for districts of Jammu.
This news of resigning by CM Omar Abdullah was first flashed on NDTV and subsequently was taken up by CNN-IBN, two channels which are believed to be close to Chief Minister Omar Abdullah.
This so called fight between Congress and NC is an intentionally scripted one. This is an effort by NC and Congress to confuse the people of Jammu & Kashmir with their fake concerns. I hope people of Jammu & Kashmir can see this.
Col Jaibans Singh
The Indian Army, on the directions of the Supreme Court of India, conducted an inquiry into the Pathribal encounter that took place in the year, 2002. It may be recalled that on May, 01, 2012, the Supreme Court ruled in the Pathribal case that the first option with regard to proceeding against the alleged accused persons rests with Army and if the Army does not take over the case for proceeding under the Army Act then the CBI should approach the Central Government for seeking sanction for their trial in a Criminal Court.
In accordance with the directions of the Apex Court of the land, the Army put in motion the judicial process as laid down in the Army Act. The procedure under the Army Act stipulates that a competent authority will first convene proceedings to investigate the charges filed in the case. To facilitate this, the competent authority is required to constitute a board of officers to record a ‘Summary of Evidence’ to establish that the charges hold merit enough for the accused to be tried by a court martial.
The Indian Army has followed the due process of law as laid down by the Army Act. A board of officers was convened to record the summary of evidence. All witnesses who were examined by the CBI in the said case and such other witnesses whom the board of officers or the accused persons desired to be examined were summoned to give their statements. In order to ensure that the proceedings are not influenced by the organisation where the incident took place, the responsibility was vested upon the Nagrota based 16 Corps.
Judicial systems the world over stipulate that witnesses have to appear before the court. In this case, however, the court had to go Awantipura in the Kashmir valley because the witnesses refused to come down to Nagrota citing financial and other constraints. Despite the road blocks the board of officers successfully completed its mandate and submitted the report of the summary of evidence. The report was then perused by General Officer Commanding, 16 Corps and General Officer Commanding-in-Chief, Northern Command.
The findings of the inquiry were declared by the competent authority of the Army on January, 23, 2014. The matter has been in the media limelight ever since. Many Human Rights organisations with dubious credentials are spreading rumours that the ends of justice have not been met by the judicial system of the country.
India is a vibrant Democracy with established rule of law and legal procedures; to indulge in rumour mongering that negatively impacts the judicial system of the country; to adopt a cynical approach and give vent to totally unsubstantiated emotions is not proper. High ranking Army officer’s would never shield a person against whom there is evidence of having committed a criminal offence. The nation should repose this much confidence in the character of its soldiers who are known to maintain the highest standards of propriety and discipline.
It is notable that recently this very Indian Army has convened court martial proceedings against its personnel in yet another encounter that took place in Machil. The outcome of the court martial is not known but what is established is that the Army is not ready to take Human Rights violations lying down and the organisation does not fight shy of getting defaulters to face the law. The Army fully understands that it has maximum to lose if it allows acts of criminality to go unpunished and would never allow such a thing to happen
The stance of the Army and Ministry of Defence all along has been that an Army-Police joint operation was conducted at Pathribal on the basis of specific information provided by J&K Police. The army unit involved acted in good faith in the discharge of its duties. Now, the board of officers detailed to conduct the summary of evidence has substantiated the findings of the inquiry held after the incident.
The Army is also being blamed for stretching the case for 14 years. Over here it would be pertinent to note that it is the insistence of the CBI to proceed with the trial without the sanction of the Government, due to reasons best known to the organisation, which led to the case being stretched over so many years. Once the case was handed over to the army it sought to fast track the proceedings and announced its decision regardless of the criticism that it knew would come its way. Delay is dispensation of justice is a bane that the entire country is afflicted with; many other cases have been going on for decades on end, the 1984 anti-Sikh riots being an example to effect. To blame the army for the slow process of justice is not correct.
The Army has sought closure of the case on the basis of lack of prima facie evidence to prove that the said operation was a fake encounter. However, to insinuate that legally the chapter stands closed is a falsity. The legal process of the country offers ample avenues to seek redress and undoubtedly they will be followed by those who feel that ends of justice have not been met.
Due process of law has been followed most assiduously in the Pathribal case. The army has conducted a fair, impartial inquiry and is open to legal procedures as laid down by the law of the land. It is best not to comment on a subject that continues to be Sub-judice.